Friday, June 30, 2017

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

It's the end of the month and as I always do, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the last 30 days. Take a look at the list and see if there is anything neat that you missed this month.

The Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp starts in three weeks. There is still time to register. If you're a Mainer, email me for a special discount only available to schools in Maine.

Here are the most popular posts of the month:
1. New Grading Options in Google Forms
2. Six Types of Video Creation Projects - And 18 Video Creation Tools
3. 4 Good Formative Assessment Tools for Classrooms That Aren't 1:1
4. Be Internet Awesome - Google's New Internet Safety Curriculum
5. Track Progress Toward Goals With This Google Sheets Template
6. Make Stop Motion Videos On Your Chromebook
7. Grade Items in G Suite Side-by-Side With Otus
8. How to Create a Word Cloud in Google Docs
9. How to Move from Google Drive to One Drive
10. 12 Sites and Apps for Learning to Code

Individual and group registration is still open for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

Four online courses starting in July:
Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

The Tour de France Begins Tomorrow - Resources for Learning More About It

The Tour de France begins tomorrow. What started out as a promotion to boost the sales of newspapers in France is now one of the biggest sporting events in the world (and a big business). Here are some resources for learning more about the Tour de France.

Check out this animated video to learn all about the tactics of the race, the logistics of the race, the physiology of riding in the race, and many other interesting facts about the world's most famous bicycle race.

If watching the race (broadcast on NBC Sports in the US) inspires you to get outside and ride a bike, don't forget your helmet. The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky offers some good resources about brain injury prevention. One of those resources is a short animated video designed to teach students about the need for wearing a helmet and how to wear helmets when biking or skateboarding. In the video students learn how to pick a helmet and how to properly fit a helmet. Watch the two minute video below.

The Science Behind the Bike is a four part video series from The Open University. The series has a total running length of 33 minutes and is a complement to a larger Open Learn course called The Science Behind Wheeled Sports. The videos and the course are designed to help students understand the physics, the physiology,  and the technology that influence the outcome of cycling events.

Sticking with the science of bicycling, Global Cycling Network offers a video addressing the question of whether having a light bike or light body makes the bigger difference in speed on a bike. The video is a bit long, but worth watching for the process and outcome. Ask your students for predictions before jumping to the end.

How is the overall winner of the Tour de France determined? It's not as simple as you might think. In addition to the overall winner's Yellow Jersey there are other prizes awarded in the race. Learn all about how the race times and points are calculated by watching the following video from the Global Cycling Network.

Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse.

The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode 10 - ISTE Recap + Q&A

Just a few minutes ago I wrapped-up the tenth episode of Practical Ed Tech Live. Most of the time was spent on my ISTE recap, but I did answer a couple of reader questions at the end. Next week I will cover more questions. The video of the episode is embedded below. You can get the outline and resource links here.

Great Chromebook & G Suite PD on Both Coasts

Summer is here and it's a great time to learn new skills and brush-up on old ones. If your school is moving to Chromebooks and or G Suite for Education, I have two great professional development opportunities to share with you.

Folks on the west coast should look into Beyond Tech Ed's two day training classes happening in Palm Springs, California on August 2nd and 3rd. Use the code FAMILY25 to receive a great discount on your registration.

If you're on the east coast, join me in Portland, Maine for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp on July 20th and 21st. Teachers in Maine should email me for special discount code.

Disclosure: Beyond Tech Ed is an advertiser on this blog. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

iMendi Quick Vocabulary Review in Eight Languages

iMendi is a simple site for reviewing key vocabulary words and phrases in eight languages. To use the site simply select a language and start flipping flashcard questions. You get two tries at the answering correctly on each card before iMendi gives you the correct answer.

If you want to focus on a specific set of vocabulary words, you can pick a specific lesson or word list from iMendi's menus that appear above every flashcard.

iMendi is available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, and Czech.

Front Row Offers Differentiated Resources for Social Studies Instruction

Front Row has developed a great reputation over the last couple of years for the differentiated math and ELA resources that it offers to teachers and students. This week at ISTE 17 I sat down with the CEO of Front Row to take a look at the new social studies resources that Front Row is offering.

Front Row's new social studies resources are organizing into fifteen units. The units cover the topics most commonly included in social studies classes in the United States. Some of those unit topics are Civil Rights, the American Revolution, and Economics. Within each topic in you will find articles and discussion questions for your students.

Applications for Education
Front Row lets you choose from multiple versions of the same article to distribute to your students. You can give the same version of an article to all students or give different versions to individual students in your classroom. Front Row has a short diagnostic test for your students to take when they join your Front Row classroom. The results of that diagnostic test can help you identify which version of each article to give to your students.

Register for Teaching History With Technology where you'll learn how to use many more tools like Front Row in your social studies lessons. 

Join Me Tomorrow for Practical Ed Tech Live - ISTE Recap + Q&A

Join me tomorrow morning at 9am EDT for episode #10 of Practical Ed Tech Live. I'll be doing my complete recap of ISTE 17 and answer your ed tech questions live. You can join me on my YouTube channel (subscribe to be reminded when I go live) or you can join me on Facebook.

If you have questions that you want me to answer, feel free to send me an email in advance and I'll be sure to include my answer in the show tomorrow.

Go Back to School With Me

Throughout the year I am fortunate to work with teachers all over the United States and Canada. I have recently opened up some space in my August calendar. If you need a back-to-school keynote or professional development workshop, send an email to richardbyrne (at) and let's talk about how I can help your school year get off to a great start.

Take a look at the list of my most popular keynote and workshops of the last year.

I look forward to working with you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Comparison of Historic Journeys

I'm writing this as I zoom through the air at 500+ miles per hour to get home after ISTE 17. Just 100 years ago this trip would have been on a train for days. And 100 years before that the journey would have be counted in weeks and months. That kind of comparison is what you will find on A Race of Discovery.

A Race of Discovery features comparisons of the time it took to complete eleven significant, historical journeys to the time those same journeys would require today. Some of the journeys that you will find on A Race of Discovery are those of Lewis and Clark, Captain Cook, and Christopher Columbus.

Applications for Education
A Race of Discovery does a nice job of showing visitors the significant stops on historical journeys. Unfortunately, the maps are light on details within those stops. That's why I'd use these maps as a model that students could follow to create their own historical journey comparison maps in Google's My Maps. My Maps lets students create maps with multiple layers. I'd have students use that function to create one layer for the historical journey with detailed placemarks then one layer for the current journey.

Discover more ideas for teaching history with technology in my upcoming course, Teaching History With Technology.

H/T to Maps Mania

Kahoot Unveils a New Mobile App and Game Play Options

Kahoot announced the release of new mobile app this week at ISTE 17. The app, still in beta, addresses a lot of the complaints about Kahoot that I've heard from teachers over the last few years.

The first item to note in the mobile app is that your students will now see the questions and answer choices on the same screen. Previously, your students always had to look at a screen in the front of the room for the question and then look back down at their devices for the answer choices. That disconnect sometimes causes students to select the wrong answer choice despite actually knowing the correct answer.

Putting the questions and answer choices on the same screen enables Kahoot to now offer a "play at home" option. "Challenges" is the term that Kahoot uses to describe the option for students to play games from home or anywhere else that they connect to the web. You can send challenges to your students to play anywhere and anytime.

Learn more about the new Kahoot mobile app in the video embedded below.

To try the new Kahoot mobile app, complete the form on this Kahoot page.

The ISTE Presentation Almost Everyone Missed - And Shouldn't Have

The ISTE 17 presentation that I was looking forward to more than any other was Dr. Gary Stager's 50th Anniversary of Logo. I got there early because I genuinely thought the ballroom would be packed. Instead, there were maybe three dozen of us in the room. That's a shame because ISTE attendees missed out on a fantastic tour through the history, development, and role of Logo and programming in general in schools.

For those that don't know, Logo is the basis of some of the most popular programming tools in school today. Scratch, Snap, MIT App Inventor, and many other tools are all rooted in Logo.

Logo Writer was my introduction to computers when I was an elementary school student. As I've said in many presentations over the years, getting to use Logo Writer was the first time that I wanted to stay after school and come in early for academic reasons. I spent a lot of hours in sixth grade programming various animations. Here's a screencast of someone using Logo Writer. (Public domain video from

Turtle Art is software that you can get today for free to do many of the same things that I was doing in Logo Writer. A helpful tip about Turtle Art that I learned from Gary was that you can drag a completed Turtle Art project from the gallery of examples into the software on your desktop and have the program revealed. The challenge to then give to your students is to change the program to create a new design. Gary gave the example of turning stalactites into stalagmites. Go to Turtle Art, get the software and try it for yourself. It's a fun challenge.

Visit Gary Stager's 50th Anniversary Logo Resources page to learn more about Logo, Turtle Art, and the development of programming in schools.

Ten Ways to Use Google Earth In Your Classroom - Handout

This week Google announced that Google Earth can now be integrated into your school's G Suite for Education services. Which means that your students can use their G Suite account credentials to use the web version of Google Earth. The newer web version of Google Earth can be used on a Chromebook.

In the PDF embedded below I provide ideas and links to directions for ten things your students can do with Google Earth. (Click here if you cannot see the embedded PDF).

Join me in July for Teaching History With Technology to learn how to use Google Earth and many other tools in your social studies lessons.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Google Earth Is Now a Component of G Suite for Education

Earlier this year Google released a Chromebook-friendly, browser-based version of Google Earth. This week at ISTE 17 Google announced that the new version of Google Earth is now a component of G Suite for Education. This means that your students will be able to use Google Earth with the same account that they use for Google Drive, Classroom, Keep, and other core G Suite components.

Take a tour of the new Google Earth in my video embedded below. 

Learn more about how to use Google Earth in your classroom in my online course, Teaching History With Technology

ClassTag's Newest Features Bridge the Gaps in Teacher-Parent Communication

This morning at ISTE 2017 I met with Vlada Lotkina from ClassTag to talk about teacher-parent communication. ClassTag originally launched as a tool for streamlining parent-teacher conference scheduling and volunteering planning. It still does that, but it now has more features for communicating with parents.

ClassTag lets you send email, push, and SMS/text announcements to parents. That's nothing unique. What is unique is that ClassTag will track whether or not those messages are opened and read by parents. If they're not opened and read, ClassTag will provide you with an option to print a flyer to send home. That flyer contains the same information as the electronic announcement.

Applications for Education
Some parents prefer text messages while others prefer email and still others prefer a good, old-fashioned flyer. ClassTag helps you identify the best ways to communicate with your students' parents.

New Grading Options in Google Forms

Google Forms has a new grading option that was released on Monday at ISTE 2017. The new option allows for batch grading of questions. You can now grade on a question-by-question basis rather than student-by-student. In other words, you can grade all responses to question #1 on a quiz rather than having to grade one student's complete set of responses before moving on to the next student's set of responses. See the GIF below for a demonstration of the new feature. (GIF courtesy of Google's marketing department).

Applications for Education
Creating and grading formative assessments is one of the most common uses of Google Forms. This new batch grading option could let you quickly assess how your entire class responded to one question. That information could help you determine if the question was valid or if your students need more instruction on a particular topic.

Dave Vernier's Eclipse Tips

On Monday at ISTE 17 I met with a representative of Vernier Software & Technology. They're producing some neat equipment for science classrooms as well as some excellent interactive physics videos. Those resources are not free to use, but they do have an excellent collection of free resources about the total eclipse happening in the United States later this summer.

Vernier's Total Eclipse website includes tips for safe observing and recording video and pictures of the eclipse. Vernier is also encouraging teachers and students to record and share their observations about the eclipse. Of course, the most important tip of all is to refrain from looking directly at the sun. That's why Vernier offers solar eclipse viewing glasses. You can also make your own solar eclipse viewing box.

Monday, June 26, 2017

SeeSaw Unveils New Features at ISTE 17

This morning at ISTE 2017 I had a nice conversation with Carl Sjogreen from SeeSaw. Carl shared with me the newest features being added to SeeSaw. The following new features will be available on July 5th and are available to preview here at the ISTE conference.

1. A new teacher-to-student and teacher-to-parent messaging system has been added to the latest version of SeeSaw. This will let teachers send announcements to students and parents. Students and parents can receive announcements via SMS and push notifications.  Parents, but not students, can reply to a teacher's announcement.

2. The home screen for teachers has been redesigned to simplify the process of finding and selecting your courses.

3. Teachers can how select and or upload a class icon. Teachers can also select a custom color scheme for their class home screens.

4. The parents' view of SeeSaw has been redesigned. The new design consolidates a parent's view of his or her child's work across multiple classes. More importantly, parents can now search for their children's work according to date and or standard folder. As Carl explained to me, this will let parents quickly compare the work their children did in September with the work they did in May.

And if you missed it earlier this year, SeeSaw added a text labeling tool that you and your students can use on images. Watch the videos below to see how the labeling tool works.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Two Programs Providing Internet Access to Low-income Homes

Today at the ISTE conference I attended the morning TeachMeet ISTE session. At the end of the session Jay Eitner took the stage and shared information about two programs that provide affordable Internet access to low-income homes.

The first program that Jay shared was the FCC Lifeline Program. The program provides significantly mobile and fixed broadband Internet access. Costs are low, but do appear to be variable. You can learn more about program eligibility and find service providers at was the second program that Jay shared at TeachMeet ISTE. is a non-profit that provides assistance to families in need of free or low-cost Internet access. The organization partners with local internet service provides in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Low-cost, refurbished tablets and computers are also available through

WordWanderer - Another Neat Word Cloud Tool

There certainly is not a shortage of word cloud creation tools on the web. The latest that I've tried is WordWanderer.

WordWanderer attempts to be different from other word cloud creation tools by letting you drag and drop words to rearrange the look of your word clouds. Additionally, WordWanderer includes a search tool that you can use to find a word. The context of your chosen word is shown below the word cloud itself.

Applications for Education
Rather than just rely on my ideas for using word clouds in your classroom, take a look at these ideas from other teachers who use word clouds in their classrooms.

Thanks to Dave Kapuler and Larry Ferlazzo for the WordWanderer link.

Blogs in the Age of Google Classroom

This week at ISTE 17 there will plenty of buzz about Google products and products that integrate with Google Classroom. Google, and some Google devotees, will have you believe that Google Classroom is the solution to almost every workflow and communication problem you have. Google Classroom does provide some good solutions to workflow and communication problems, but there are some things it doesn't do or do well that a blog can do.

The first limitation of relying solely on Google Classroom is that it can only be accessed by approved members of your classroom and parents that you have invited (provided your school lets you invite parents). If you want to have students share their thoughts on a topic with a global audience, Google Classroom isn't an option for that. By contrast, having a blog will let your students participate in activities like QuadBlogging in which they share with students around the world.

Google Classroom was designed as a tool to streamline your workflow within G Suite. It wasn't designed to be a full-fledged publishing platform on which students showcase their work with a wider audience. Classroom blogs or individual blogs to which students contribute are designed to support publishing their videos, podcasts, interactive images, and other media. Yes, you can let students add some of that media to Google Classroom, but it will clutter your Classroom's stream. And it still won't let parents and other visitors comment on the content added by students.

Push notifications are an option in the Google Classroom mobile apps. That's a fine option, if you can convince parents and students to install the app and accept notifications. By contrast you can use a service like Remind and have standard text messages sent to parents and students without them needing to install an additional app (they will need to consent to receiving text messages). Those messages can be added to your blog through the use of the Remind widget.

Ready to make your own blog? Try Edublogs, Blogger, or one of these other options.

eduClipper Was Acquired by Participate - What That Means for Teachers

The popular social bookmarking and digital portfolio tool eduClipper has been acquired by Participate. Fortunately, teachers and students who currently use eduClipper won't notice any changes. Participate's commitment to maintaining eduClipper's free service for teachers was reiterated to me many times in the conversation that I have with eduClipper's founder Adam Bellow and Participate's CEO David Young. In fact, here's a video of Adam reiterating that point this morning in a YouTube Live broadcast from ISTE 2017.

Read the official acquisition announcement from Participate and eduClipper.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quickly Print a Storyboard Template from Google Slides

Earlier this week I watched a webinar that was hosted by Lee LeFever from Common Craft. You probably know Lee and his wife Sachi's work from videos like Google Docs in Plain English and Wikis in Plain English. In the webinar Lee explained the process that he and Sachi use to create their videos. One part of that process is creating storyboards in PowerPoint. Google Slides users can do the same thing. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to print a storyboard template from Google Slides. (Click here if you cannot see the embedded video).

PowerPoint users, watch the following video to see how to print a storyboard from your slides.

The Week in Review - The ISTE Prelude

Good afternoon from San Antonio, Texas where I have just checked-in at the ISTE 2017 conference. The conference doesn't officially begin until tomorrow, but there is already plenty of activity around the convention center. When I checked-in I was asked, "what are you looking for at the conference?" My answer was, "things that empower students to be creators and examples of students creating and sharing with the world." As it turns out, there is a strand of poster presentations directly related to that idea of students as publishers.

Of course, I'm here to report on the things that matter to those of you who cannot attend the conference. That's why I created this short survey to find out what you want me to report on. Please take one minute to submit a suggestion.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 12 Sites and Apps for Learning to Code
2. Convert Physical Sticky Notes Into Digital Notes
3. How to Print Google Forms
4. How Formatically Helps Students Format Essays in MLA Style
5. More Than 100,000 Interesting Historical Images to Download for Free
6. Collaborate With Students to Create Quiz Games
7. Create Mind Maps in Google Drawings

Individual and group registration is still open for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

Four online courses starting in July:
Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Four Online PD Opportunities Starting In July

In June I hosted four online courses for teachers and school administrators. In July I am offering four more online learning opportunities. A description of each course, its dates and times, and registration links are included below. If you’re a subscriber to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter be sure to use the discount code “subscriber” when you register.

The landscape of educational technology is constantly changing and it’s easy to feel like you don’t know where to start. The Practical Ed Tech Jumpstart was designed for you. This three week online course will walk you through a simple yet powerful framework for using technology in your classroom. You’ll come away from this course with a playbook of activities that you can adapt to use in almost any classroom setting from elementary school through high school. This three week course begins on July 11th at 7pm EDT. Learn more and register here.

Getting Going With G Suite
Getting Going With G Suite is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With G Suite is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice. Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments. The next course starts on July 6th at 7pm EDT. Register here.

Teaching History With Technology
In Teaching History With Technology you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging learning activities through the use of tools like Google Earth and Maps, video production tools, primary source databases, and how to help your students become better researchers. This course features three interactive online meetings along with a discussion forum in which you can further interact with me and your classmates. The cost of the course is $97 including access to the live sessions, recordings of the webinars, handouts, and PD certificate. The next course begins on July 10th at 7pm EDT. Register here.

From Blog to Job – A Teacherpreneur Jumpstart
I’ve been earning money through my blog for eight years. I’ll teach you how to do it too! In this four week course I’ll give you the blueprints for developing an online presence through which you can earn money. All the questions that you’ve always wanted to ask about making money through blogs and social media will be answered for you in this course. Learn more and register here. The next course begins on July 2nd at 7pm EDT.

A Good App and A Good Site for Learning About Endangered Animals

WWF Together is a beautiful iPad app and Android app that features interactive stories about endangered animals around the world. Each of the interactive stories includes beautiful images and videos, facts about the animals and their habitats, and the threats to each of the animals. Some of the animals currently featured in the app are pandas, marine turtles, elephants, tigers, polar bears, bison, whales, gorillas, rhinos, and snow leopards.

In Pieces is a neat site that features the stories of 30 endangered animals around the world. Visit the site and you will be greeted by a little animation that comes together to form the shape of a whale. After the animation plays click through to see the stories of the 30 animals featured in the site. Each animal's story is told with text, images, and video. You'll learn about the threats to each animal, its native habit, and efforts to save each animal.

Applications for Education
After learning about the animals in the site and apps I might have students conduct their own research about endangered animals then put together visual reports about those animals. I would consider having students use Pic-Collage and Thinglink to make their own interactive displays about endangered animals. Tutorials for that process can be found here.

Get Inspired By These Videos

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley. Rushton is the founder of Next Vista for Learning and the author of Making Your School Something Special

I love an inspiring video.

While I think it's inspiring that there are over two thousand short videos created by and for teachers and students everywhere on, we also have a resource page filled with videos on other sites.

These stories tell of inspiring young people, or an amazing teacher, or simply a moment that captures your heart.

We believe these sources of inspiration might be used to rally your team, or perhaps prompt important discussions with your colleagues.

Next Vista for Learning: Sources of Inspiration

Feel free to share what you find with others. All of us occasionally need a reminder that there are all kinds of wonderful moments happening all around.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dictate - Speech Recognition for PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook

Dictate is a free add-in for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Once you have Dictate installed you can speak to have text appear in your documents, slides, and emails. Simple voice commands let you insert punctuation, delete words, and start new paragraphs.

Dictate takes just a minute or two to install. Just download the installation file and run the installation wizard once to have Dictate appear in all three Microsoft products.

Applications for Education
Dictate could be a helpful add-in for students who need to speak to insert text into documents or emails.

The Not at ISTE 2017 Survey

The annual ISTE conference starts on this coming Sunday. I'll once again be attending with a media credential. While I already have a list of interviews that I'll be conducting, I am also looking for input from those of you who aren't able to attend the biggest ed tech conference of the year in North America. I want to know what you would be interested in learning about if you could attend the conference. That's why I created the short Google Form that is embedded below. Please take a minute and let me know what you want to learn about from ISTE 2017.

Free Webinar - Protecting Students While Empowering Them to Publish

Red Jumper, the producers of the popular Book Creator app, is hosting a free webinar about protecting students when they publish online. The webinar is being conducted by my friend Beth Holland and Bill Fitzgerald. The webinar starts today at 11:30am. The webinar is being conducted through YouTube Live where you'll be able to chat while watching the webinar.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Turbulence Explained - #BigMetalBird

Big Metal Bird is a series of videos about aviation and the aviation industry. The videos were produced by United Airlines and some of the episodes are clearly done for marketing purposes, but the episode about air turbulence is useful to anyone who is nervous about flying or is just curious about what causes turbulence. By watching the video embedded below viewers can learn what causes four types of turbulence and how airline pilots and ground crews work to avoid turbulent air.

Here are two related resources that you might find useful for helping students learn how airplanes fly:

How Things Fly features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

The Minute Physics video How Do Airplanes Fly? explains the roles of wings, propellers, turbines, and wind currents in making a plane fly.

H/T to The Points Guy for the Big Metal Bird videos. 

Mapping Local Art - A Google Maps and Earth Activity

Winslow Homer [Public domain]
 via Wikimedia Commons.
Whenever I conduct workshops on Google Maps and Google Earth I always point out that there are uses for those tools beyond the realm of geography and history. A recent, popular, example of this is found in the Google Arts & Culture Institute's Street View imagery of museums.

While the Google Arts & Culture Institute is great for viewing existing imagery on maps made by others, it still leaves a lot of art, artifacts, and interesting landmarks to be mapped. That's where your students can take over.

By using Google's My Maps tools or the desktop version of Google Earth, students can map the locations of where a piece of local art is housed, where it was created, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

Students can use the Google Street View app (available for Android and iOS) to capture 360 degree photospheres of local landmarks, sculptures made by local artists, or the places that inspired local artists. The photospheres that students create can be saved privately or they can publish their photospheres to Google Maps.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Convert Physical Sticky Notes Into Digital Notes

Post-it Plus is a free iPad app that you can use to turn your physical sticky notes into digital notes. With this free app installed on your iPad or iPhone you can snap a picture of a collection of physical sticky notes and have them quickly digitized. Once your notes are digitized you can re-arrange them, share them with collaborators, or send them to another application like Dropbox. If you have multiple sets of notes you can combine the best notes into one board on the Post-it Plus iPad and iPhone app.

Applications for Education 
Post-it Plus is a good app for digitizing the output of a brainstorming session that started with physical notes. In a classroom in which only the teacher has an iPad or there are only a few iPads you could have students carry-out brainstorming sessions with physical notes then go around the room with one iPad to create a digital record of those notes. Then project the app through an LCD projector or interactive whiteboard to show students all of the notes and talk about which notes should be sorted into various categorized boards in the app.

An Easier Way to Register for Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Last week I publicized the group discount rate for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Since then I've had a few people inquire about an option to register with a payment plan instead of paying all at once. So I looked into it and I'm happy to announce that I can now offer the option to register and pay over time instead of all at once. Please email me at richardbyrne (at) for more information about this new registration option.

How to Print Google Forms

Google Forms can be provide you with a good way to create a quiz for your students to complete online. It's also a great tool for conducting surveys and or registrations for school club activities. Unfortunately, if not all of your students have access to the web then you will need to print copies of the form for students and or parents to complete. In the video below I demonstrate how to print a Google Form. As I point out in the video, when you use the print option in Google Forms small bubbles appear next to answer choices along with some additional instructions for students.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Collaborate With Students to Create Quiz Games

Triventy is a free quiz game platform that earlier today I introduced to a great group of teachers in New Hampshire. The concept behind Triventy will feel familiar to anyone who has used Kahoot or Quizizz. Triventy differentiates itself from Kahoot and Quizziz by allowing you to accept question suggestions from students. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a quiz on Triventy and accept question suggestions from students.

Three Good Ways to Create Stop Motion Videos - Tutorials

Last week I published a blog post about creating stop motion videos on Chromebooks. That post led to some emails from readers who were wondering about other options for creating stop motion videos. Here are three tutorials on three free tools that you and your students can use to create stop motion videos.

JellyCam is a free program for creating stop motion movies. Using JellyCam you can create stop motion movies using images from your computer or images that you capture via your webcam. Once you've selected images you can quickly arrange them into a sequence. After the sequence is set you can specify how many images you want per frame. A soundtrack can be uploaded to your video. JellyCam uses the Adobe Air platform. If you don't have Adobe Air it takes just a couple of minutes to install it on your computer. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use JellyCam.

Parapara Animation is a free animation creation tool developed and hosted by Mozilla. The tool is easy to use and it does not require registration in order to use it. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create an animation with ParaPara Animation.

Stop Motion Animator is a free Chrome app for creating stop motion videos. The app is free and easy to use. It does not even require students to create accounts in order to use it.

Applications for Education
Creating stop motion and time-lapse videos can be a good way for students to tell a story that they have developed. Stop-motion and time-lapse videos can also be helpful when teachers are trying to help students see how a lengthy process like osmosis works.

More Than 100,000 Interesting Historical Images to Download for Free

A Cow Grazing
Adriaen van de Velde
Image Source: J. Paul Getty Museum
The Getty Museum's Open Content Program offers more than 114,000 images that you can download and re-use for free. You can download and re-use the images as long as you give proper attribution for the source of the image (see my image caption for an example).

The Getty Search Gateway is the best way to locate images in the Getty Museum's Open Content Program. The Getty Search Gateway allows you to filter your search according to material type, topic, name, source, and location. Once you find an image, click the image's title to be taken to its landing page where you can learn more about it, get the required attribution information, and learn more about the history of your chosen image.

Applications for Education
The Getty's Open Content Program could be a good source of images to use in art history lessons. The Getty Search Gateway could also be a good place for students to find images to use in multimedia presentations.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Create Mind Maps in Google Drawings

In a webinar that I hosted last week I was discussing using mind maps to generate ideas for blog posts. Someone in the webinar asked for a demonstration so I opened Google Drawings and quickly put together a mind map of blog post ideas. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the tools in Google Drawings to create mind maps.

Crello - A Good Option for Creating Graphics

Crello is a free platform that bears a striking resemblance to Canva. Like Canva, Crello offers a variety of free design templates that you can customize with stock imagery and clip art or with images of your own that you upload to your Crello account. All of your designs can be downloaded as PDF, JPG, or PNG files to re-use as you see fit.

Applications for Education
Crello is a tool that you could have students use to create posters, infographics, and collages about the subjects that they research in your class. You might also use Crello to create graphics to share on social media to promote a school event. I published an extensive post about using graphics to promote school events.

Formative 2.0 is Coming Soon - Save Your Data Soon

Formative is one of my favorite free tools for conducting interactive formative assessments. I've used it to create image-based quizzes and diagram-based quizzes. You can also use it to create interactive assessments based on documents that you upload to the site.

Last week Formative announced via email that Formative 2.0 is coming soon. The new version will offer some outstanding new features. Before the new version is rolled-out on June 24th you should download any student responses that you think you'll want to be able to access in the new version. You can download all existing student responses in a CSV file. To do so, just go to the results page of any assessment and select "export." Selecting the export option will generate a CSV file that you can download and later import into the next version of Formative.

12 Sites and Apps for Learning to Code

Last week on Twitter I mentioned that Logo was my introduction to computers and programming. Today we have many more ways to introduce students to programming and coding. Here are some good resources that you can use to introduce students to programming and coding.

When the conversation amongst educators turns to programming, Scratch is often the first resource that is mentioned. Scratch allows students to program animations, games, and videos through a visual interface. Students create their programs by dragging together blocks that represent movements and functions on their screens. The blocks snap together to help students see how the "if, then" logic of programming works. If you haven't seen Scratch before, watch the short overview in the video below.

Scratch Overview from ScratchEd on Vimeo.

Scratch Jr. is based on the aforementioned online Scratch program. Scratch Jr for iPad and for Android uses the same drag and drop programming principles used in Scratch. On Scratch Jr students can program multimedia stories and games. To program a story or game on Scratch Jr. students select background settings for each frame of the story. Then in each frame students select the actions that they want their characters to take. Students snap programming pieces together to make characters move and talk in their stories and games.

Snap! is a drag-and-drop programming interface designed to help students learn to program. Snap! uses a visual interface that works in your browser on your laptop as well as on your iPad. To design a program in Snap! drag commands into a sequence in the scripts panel. The commands are represented by labeled jigsaw puzzle pieces that snap together to create a program. You can try to run your program at any time to see how it will be executed. After previewing your program you can go back and add or delete pieces as you see fit. Snap! may remind some people of Scratch. That is because the Snap! developers call their program "an extended re-implementation of Scratch." The potential benefit of Snap! over Scratch is that teachers who have a mix of iPads, Android tablets, and laptops in their classrooms can have all of their students use the same programming interface.

The MIT App Inventor allows students to create and publish their own Android applications. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Click here to read about a great app developed by students using the MIT App Inventor.

Google Blockly's interface will remind you of the MIT App Inventor and Scratch. Google Blockly, like Scratch and the MIT App Inventor, uses jigsaw pieces containing commands that you can snap together to create an application. The blocks can be dragged, dropped, and rearranged as many times as you like. Google has five working demonstrations of Blockly that you can try right now. Google Blockly could be a good tool for students to use to play with logic commands in a relatively easy to understand environment. Blockly doesn't require any typing, just clicking, dragging, and dropping with a mouse or on a touch screen.

Crunchzilla is a service that students can use to learn to write Javascript programs. There are two versions of Crunchzilla; Code Maven and Code Monster. Code Monster is designed for students of middle school age. Code Monster contains 58 short lessons that take students from the very basics of things like resizing and repositioning objects to complex creation of animations. Students can work through the lessons in sequence or jump directly to any of the lessons. Students receive instant feedback on each lesson because the code that they write and the results of the code are displayed side by side.

Code Maven offers 59 lessons for students to work through at their own pace to learn programming fundamentals. After completing the Code Maven tutorials students are ready to move on to Game Maven where they can work through 37 lessons in which they will create three simple online games.

TouchDevelop is a great platform through which students can learn to program simple animations and games. On TouchDevelop students program a series of actions by entering sequences of commands such as "move forward" and "turn right" that are carried out on the screen by a chosen figure such as a turtle. In addition to the direction commands students program the distances covered on screen, the colors, the animations, and the images to appear on screen. All commands have to be entered into correct sequences of "if, then" logic in order for everything to display as intended. TouchDevelop works on most modern web browsers including Chrome for iPad. Students completed programs can be saved online and or exported for use as Windows apps or HTML5 applications.

CodeMonkey is a fun game through which students learn some basic programming skills. In the game students have to help a monkey get his bananas. The game presents students with a series of thirty progressively more difficult challenges in which they have to help a monkey reach his bananas. Students help the monkey get his bananas by correctly programming the movements of the monkey. CodeMonkey provides little tutorials for to help students through the challenges.

Thunkable is a free platform for designing, testing, and publishing your own Android apps (support for iOS apps is coming soon). Through Thunkable you can create your apps even if you don't know how to write code. That is possible because Thunkable uses a drag-and-drop design framework. That framework, based on the MIT App Inventor, shows you jigsaw-like pieces that have commands labeled on them. Your job is to put the pieces together to make your apps work. Thunkable offers detailed written tutorials and video tutorials.

Daisy the Dinosaur is a free iPad app designed to introduce young students to  some programming basics. The app asks students to create commands for Daisy the Dinosaur to carry out. There is a free play mode in which students can make Daisy do whatever they want. But to get started you might want to have students work through the beginner challenges mode. Daisy the Dinosaur asks students to enter commands in the correct sequence in order to make Daisy complete tasks correctly. Daisy the Dinosaur could be used with students as young as Kindergarten age.

Hopscotch is a free iOS app that introduces students to programming logic. The app originally launched as an iPad-only app. Last week the developers released an iPhone-friendly version of the free app. In Hopscotch students put command boxes into order to make cartoon avatars move and draw lines. Students can program one or all of the cartoon avatars to move and follow commands based on touch or on the movement of their iPads.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Soundtrap Now Offers MIDI Export

Soundtrap is a great tool for students to use to create music online. Soundtrap offers a wide variety of virtual instruments that students can use to create music on Chromebooks, Mac and Windows computers, and iOS and Android tablets. Soundtrap also lets kids record music they play with real instruments. The best part is that students can collaborate on the creation of music with virtual instruments. In essence, it's Google Docs for music.

This week Soundtrap added a new feature that some music teachers will appreciate. That is feature is the option to export music as MIDI files. Students can download their MIDI files or export them directly to or Noteflight for further composition editing.

The Week in Review - The Recombobulation Area

An appropriate sign after TSA
in Milwaukee. 
Good morning from Maine where I'm enjoying a nice cup of coffee while my dog sleeps next to me on the couch. It's a nice way to start a summer day. Put another way, drinking coffee at a leisurely pace feels like I've entered a recombobulation area. That's a term that I've borrowed from the TSA station in the Milwaukee airport. That's an appropriate name for the chaotic areas that are directly after security screening in airports. It's also an appropriate term for the first days after school gets out for the summer. I hope that all of you on summer break are enjoying it so far.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Six Types of Classroom Video Projects - And 18 Video Creation Tools
2. 4 Good Formative Assessment Tools for Classrooms That Aren't 1:1
3. Make Stop Motion Videos on Your Chromebook
4. How to Create a Word Cloud In Google Docs
5. The Four Things Students Need to Create Good Book Trailers
6. My Three Favorite Classroom Timer Tools
7. Leaving One G Suite District for Another? - Take Your Data With You

I am currently offering four online courses:
Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.